GOING TO PATCHOGUE by Thomas McGonigle


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A swoony mash of here, there, and everywhere: place-reflections, middle-aged stock-taking, bad poetry, and a good deal of trivial lip-smacking over the satisfactions of nonlinear narrative. McGonigle (The Corpse Dream of N. Petkov, 1987--not reviewed) sends his narrator back to the Long Island village of his growing-up, but the narrator finds no purchase there: life is small, brutish, predictable, banal. Rather than draw any conclusions about life from this, the narrator chooses instead to train the light on his own velleity, on the traveller's angst: ""I have always wanted to be away from wherever I've been living. Always away and when I do go away it is only after telling myself and anyone who will listen, I am going away so the final moments when doubt nearly stops me I have to go because I cannot face:..."" This adolescent mirror-watching is dispiriting, for the places that the narrator comes back to and leaves, that are his magnets however fickle--Patchogue, Bulgaria, the Lower East Side--are glimpsed intelligently. As a long essay about travel, this all might have been stunning. McGonigle seems a smart but lazy writer, too easily hypnotized and bought off by various chestnut theories of poetic prose and noncontinuous pastiche. The vintage work of Gilbert Sorrentino and Paul Metcalf shows how remarkable and moving and funny the ordinariness of the very local can be, achieved through immersion in voice or fact--but McGonigle refuses to go that deep in favor of the shallower I.

Pub Date: Jan. 6th, 1992
ISBN: 1564786633
Page count: 213pp
Publisher: Dalkey Archive